Health & Fitness

The Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a type of physiotherapy that treats issues with the lungs. There are many conditions affecting the lungs that pulmonary rehabilitation can treat, including respiratory infections, chronic respiratory diseases, asthma, trauma such as rib fractures and post-surgery.

Pulmonary physiotherapy can benefit conditions such as

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Breathlessness
  • Lung surgery
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Croup
  • Cystic fibrosis

What Are the Symptoms of a Respiratory Problem?

Some of the common symptoms that may indicate a respiratory problem include:

  • Shallow or rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Problems clearing your airways
  • Minimal or no expansion of the lower ribs when breathing

Experiencing these symptoms may not indicate a serious problem, and it’s important to visit your doctor or physiotherapist for a professional diagnosis.

What Does a Respiratory Physiotherapist Do?

A respiratory physiotherapist is highly trained in the techniques necessary to help improve lung function. Some of these techniques include percussion, breathing exercises, specific positioning, airway clearance and the use of breathing devices.

Your physio will prescribe the appropriate treatment for your condition based on a thorough assessment and your symptoms. Pulmonary physiotherapy involves listening to your breathing to assess where the problem is located. A treatment will then be tailored to your needs.

What Are Pulmonary Rehabilitation Exercises?

There are a number of pulmonary exercises used by physiotherapists. Some of the most common include:

  • Specific positioning – this technique targets specific areas of the lungs to help with inflation. It is also used to help with draining mucus. Percussion – this is used to help break up thick, sticky mucus that’s causing problems with lung inflation. This technique may also be combined with specific positioning to help target certain areas. Breathing techniques – These exercises help those who are experiencing difficulties inflating their lungs effectively.
  • Airway clearance – Using huff techniques, this exercise helps to target either the lower or upper lungs to help remove mucus or particles. This is followed by coughing to clear the upper airways.

How Long Do You Do Chest Physiotherapy?

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs usually run for 6-8 weeks, once to twice per week. Your physiotherapist will discuss your condition and design a program suited to your symptoms. You may be given a home exercise program once you are confident with the exercises. These can be completed on the days when you’re not attending rehabilitation.

What Are the Benefits of Pulmonary Rehab?

Pulmonary rehabilitation benefits many conditions and helps with:

  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wet cough
  • An inability to get enough air in the lungs
  • Airway clearance
  • Improving movement of the upper and lower chest
  • Lung expansion
  • Improving oxygenation
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Decreases the severity of asthma attacks


Pulmonary physiotherapists are highly skilled in assessing and treating many conditions related to the lungs. They help to improve breathing and overall lung function using a number of different techniques. Each patient will have their own program that has been specifically tailored to their needs and symptoms. For more information about pulmonary physiotherapy contact your local Como physiotherapist.

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